101 East

Dodging Compulsory Military Service in South Korea

In South Korea, young men must serve in the military or face jail time. But for those who refuse on moral or religious grounds, there is a new option.

In South Korea, to maintain a ready fighting force, all men between the ages of 18 and 28 are required to serve at least 18 months of military service.

For 70 years, those who refused for religious or personal reasons were sent to jail. Nearly 20,000 men have been put behind bars, the vast majority Jehovah’s Witnesses.

But now there is a new alternative for conscientious objectors; they can instead apply to work for three years in prisons as cooks, janitors or civilian administrators.

101 East meets those dodging the draft in South Korea.